IVYBRIDGE will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at Lydney last weekend when they host Cleve at Cross-in-Hand in National Three South West on Saturday (2.30pm).
Last week’s 29-25 loss in Gloucestershire was only Ivybridge’s third of the season and their first to a team outside the top two.
Not only do the South Hams side, who sit fourth in the table, want to respond to that reverse but they also want to prove a point to ninth-placed Cleve, who did the double over them last season.
Cleve also edged Ivybridge out for the South West One title in the 2014/15 season.
“Cleve are a tricky side,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “And they are like our common rivals. They were in South West One with us and then they came with us up to National Three last year.
“They did the double on us last season and we want to show we’re better than that now. We want to get that big result.
“Last time we played Cleve at home they beat us 52-21. That was a drubbing. There was no hiding away from that. We gave boys opportunities that day and paid the consequences for not having that depth, but this year is completely different.
“I think we are going to really target this game. It’s a big home game and, hopefully, we get a big crowd and go into December with a bit of momentum.”
Ivybridge’s squad depth has been improved by the amount of young players who have pushed through from their successful colts this season.
Last weekend, Ivybridge handed yet another teenager a debut – prop Marcus Prout.
“He played the full 80 having only turned 18 the previous Sunday,” said Paterson. “He is one for the future and we are going to really work with Marcus.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis does not want the pressure of being the new leaders to get to his team.
Services moved to the top of the Western Counties West standings last weekend with a 24-19 victory over Burnham-on-Sea.
However, on Saturday they face a tough trip to fourth-placed Truro, who are only two points behind them in the table.
“It is really tight at the top,” said Lewis, whose team could drop to fourth if they don’t win this weekend.
The match between Truro and Services is the pick of the games in Western Counties West.
However, Lewis is keen not to put too much pressure on the match.
“It is no bigger than the rest of our games,” said Lewis. “Every game is just worth four or five points maximum, so it does not matter who or where we are playing. That’s the mentally we try to go out with.
“We try to keep having this philosophy that it’s just a game of rugby and we are just going out there to have a bit of fun, but, at the same time, when you see yourself top of the league there is that added bit of pressure.”
He added: “We do want to take a bit of a big game mentality into this weekend, but at the same time we are trying not to put any pressure on.
“You want the team to go into the game and raise their standards, but at the same time you don’t want to put too much pressure on as that can have the opposite effect to what we want.”
Lewis felt Services did not play to their best last weekend against Burnham.
“We did really well for 60 minutes and then fell of the boil for 20 minutes as we thought we had it won,” he said.
“The week before against Tiverton everyone knew it was going to be tough and boys left everything on the field.
“Last weekend the boys went into it with the right attitude, but just weren’t quite there. We were probably 10 per cent off where we were the week before. We still did quite well but got a bit complacent at the end of the game.”
Lewis is hoping his team can put a full 80-minute performance in against Truro.
Services do have front-row forward Joe Daley available again after recovering from a broken thumb, although they are without Charles Horn and Rob Ede.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks coach Tim Mathias hopes his team will prove a point on Saturday when they host Lanner at Horsham Fields.
High-flying Oaks suffered a shock defeat last weekend at previously winless Honiton.
Their 9-6 reverse in east Devon brought to an end a five-game winning run for fourth-placed Plymstock.
“As I said to the players, rugby’s a sport where you get to put it right the following week and, hopefully, we do that,” said Mathias.
“Last week maybe shows that we have got a bit more to work on than we previously thought. Hopefully, it keeps us honest and working hard.”
Oaks are unbeaten at home this season, with Falmouth and Penryn among the teams to have come unstuck at Horsham Field so far this term.
“We have got a great home record,” said Mathias. “And it is a long way for them (Lanner) to come, but we’ve got to work hard this week.”
Probably the most crucial match in the league is not at the top but at the bottom of the table where Tamar Saracens host fellow strugglers Topsham.
Topsham are the only team keeping Sarries off the foot of the table – and that’s only because the east Devon side have had 10 points deducted.
However, a win could leap-frog Saracens up a place, above Honiton, who travel to Saltash, and also close the gap on ever-improving Lanner, who are now 11 points ahead in 11th spot.
Saracens have appointed injured Brixham hooker Chey Bryce as their head coach this week. He takes over from Stuart Busfield.
Dan Leeson has also returned to the club in a coaching role.
Leeson admits it is a shame they have not just had a bit longer to work with the team before this weekend’s big match.
“It has probably come a little bit early for us really,” said Leeson. “We have pinpointed a few little bits and pieces that we need to work on as team.
“But we are at home and we have got players returning. We are going in as strong as we possibly can at this moment in time.”
Tamar Saracens, who were beaten 60-0 at Bodmin last week, have not played at home since hosting Argaum on November 12. They had been due to play leaders Falmouth at Ernesettle the following week but that had to be postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
“They have done some work on the pitch over the last couple of weeks,” said Leeson. “It has been spiked and it has been a dry week.”
Plymouth Argaum and Tavistock both have big club events to tie in with their home matches this weekend.
Tavistock will be honouring the life of former club secretary Peter Garland, who did in October, when they host Bodmin at Sandy Park.
There will be a minute’s silence before the game, the club will be raising money throughout the day for his chosen charity, The Devon Air Ambulance Trust, and then after the match at 5.30pm they will rename their clubhouse bar after him.
Tavistock are hoping they can mark the day with a good result against Bodmin, who are up to fifth after their big win over Tamar Saracens last weekend.
Tavistock have played well at home this season and they will be keen to bounce back from their 80-0 hammering at leaders Falmouth last Saturday.
“We have firsts, seconds and the colts all at home,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill. “And all three teams will be lead out by minis and juniors of the club on to the first XV pitch for a minutes silence/applause to remember Peter Garland.
“That’s quite fitting as Pete was the cornerstone of all aspects of the club from minis, juniors, girls, colts and seniors.
“Then at 5.30pm there will be an unveiling of a plaque to rename the bar ‘The Pete Garland Bar’.
“As for the rugby, the less said about last week the better. We are just looking to Bodmin, who appear to be the slight surprise package.
“I know very little about Bodmin but they have looked impressive on paper in recent weeks. That being said, if we play to our potential we have the ability to run all the teams in the league to the wire.”
Brothers Sam and Andrew Smerdon will line-up in the Tavistock team for the first time in a number of years, while the Sandy Park club are able to welcome back experienced front-row forward Adrian Baker and Mark Friend.
Tavistock currently have five wins to their name but Kerswill believes his team have the ability to go into 2017 with eight victories under the belt. After hosting Bodmin, Tavistock will visit Topsham before entertaining Lanner.
Tavistock’s seconds are playing Plymouth University IIIs, while their colts are hosting Okehampton.
Meanwhile, Plymouth Argaum will be officially re-opening their clubhouse, having taken ownership of it again, when they entertain third-placed Paignton at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
The match also coincides with the Battle of Argaum, which is where the city rugby club’s name comes from.
“It is quite a big day for the club,” said secretary and spokesman Stuart Quarterman.
“It’s Argaum Day and we have our bar opening. The clubhouse is going to be a proper rugby clubhouse again and not a social club.”
The clubhouse had previously been leased out, but Argaum will now be running it themselves as a members club.
Like, Tavistock and Tamar Saracens, they are also looking to bounce back from a tough trip to Cornwall last weekend.
Argaum were surprisingly beaten 31-6 at Lanner. That ended a run of three consecutive wins for the Plymouth team.
However, they are expecting a tough test against Paignton, who have only lost once this season – a 16-12 home defeat to leaders Falmouth. The south Devon side would be top of the league had they not had 10 points deducted.
“It is another tough game,” said Quarterman. “They are very much a team in-form.”
Argaum currently sit ninth in the table but they are only five points behind fifth-placed Bodmin.
“It is a really tight league,” said Quarterman. “We are only five points off the top third.
“We know if we can perform well we can give anyone a run for the money.”
He added: “This weekend is all about our performance and then just see what we get out of that at the end of the day.”
Second-placed Saltash will be hoping to keep the pressure on leaders Falmouth.
The Ashes host 12-placed Honiton at Moorlands Lane. They are just two points behind Falmouth, who play Withycombe this weekend.
Saltash’s seconds, meanwhile, face a Lockie Cup quarter-final with holders Old Techs at Weston Mill.
Old Techs, who also reached the David Butt Trophy final, will be keen for action having not played since their frustrating 10-6 home defeat to OPMs on November 19.
The Old Boys were left without a match last Saturday when Plympton Victoria pulled out of their Devon Two clash after they could not raise a side.
South West rugby fixtures can be found HERE